I truly dread to think how many hours of my life have been spent scrubbing slime.
As the years brought bigger aquariums with each up-date, there was more stuff to get covered in goldfish crap. The time spent at the sink, vigorously scouring, stretched into sessions of ever greater duration.
'Slime' is such a soft sounding word to describe what often seemed welded on. So many old toothbrushes have been worn down to the nub, their bristles eroded in endless sweeps of coral crevices. It takes stamina to stay, when your fingers are throbbing, your back is aching and still that last bit of slime won't shift.
I've banished objects from the goldfish tank before now. My will to keep them on pretty display became out-stripped by my desire to stop scrubbing at stubborn slime. I've berated myself too. Pushed on, quite literally, until my red, raw fingers have grown too tired to direct the brush. It slips, hard pressed on the coral, and takes the skin off my knuckles with it.
It's not even like I'm a particularly slovenly goldfish owner. I do frequent partial water changes. I try not to over-feed them (number one cause of algae and slime in cold water aquariums).
I undertake proper tank cleaning reasonably regularly too. Just as often as that mental ratio, recoiling in horror at the state those fish are expected to live in, edges over the part whining that cleaning the tank is such a big job.
The bar is very low. It possibly says something dire about my psyche, but I feel more sorry for the fish than I do for myself. There's nothing they can do about the grime inside their tank. Until someone invents a miniature, waterproof, gill-operated vacuum cleaner, it's all down to me.
It's worth remembering that grave responsibility, when my fingers ache. When it feels like you may have done permanent damage, after applying the pressure needed for intense precision scouring for so long.
The goldfish never quite seem very grateful. But then, they're goldfish.